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let your imagination run wild...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about imagination. This is mostly because I've recently finished reading The Wild Things by Dave Egger and I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the film Where the Wild Things Are. The main character of both the book and the film, Max, has an awesome imagination, which, of course, is a product of real-life author Maurice Sendak's(and, more recently, author Dave Egger's) imagination. When you think about it, it's truly amazing to be exposed to the imagination of another and reading The Wild Things and re-reading Where The Wild Things Are has inspired me to think more about my imagination -- or lack there of.

Okay, I still have a pretty active imagination, but it is nothing like the imagination I had as a child. I would create these stories in my head -- completely nonsensical and far-fetched -- and I would truly believe them. The older I get, the farther away I seem to be from those moments of imaginative daydreaming, from those complete and utterly random ideas that came to me in clouds of inspiration. Lately I've been wondering: Why? Why has my imagination been stunted by my growth into adulthood? Thinking about it, I realized that the reason my imagination hasn't been performing the way it used to is because it's out of practice. All of those years of being negative and sarcastic and sad smothered my imagination. There was no room for it to grow and I spent so much time thinking about all of my real life "problems" that I left no space for my mind to wander and explore. Well, that's about to change!

Now, I'm all about living in the now, or, at the very least, trying to live in the now, so how does allowing my imagination to run wild fit in with living in the moment...? Good question. If I want to be living in the moment, how can I also be imagining what could be? Or, even more complex, how can I be living now and imagining things that aren't even logical possibilities? I looked up the definition of imagination, and, just as I feared, Merriam-Webster told me that imagination is the "act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses." Uh-oh. How can I exercise my imagination while still living in the present? This got me thinking and so I came up with some ideas of how I can cultivate my imagination while still living in the present moment...

How To Let Your Imagination Run Wild (in the Now)

  • Be very observant of what's around you. Paying attention of what's going on around you is a great way to stay in the present moment, but it's also an awesome way to stimulate your imagination. When you're paying attention to what's going on around you, you have the opportunity to see and hear and feel new things. In addition, paying careful attention in situations you find yourself often will alert you to things you may not have noticed before. Paying attention is a great way to excite your imagination while staying in the present moment.


  • Take a step out of your regular routines. Taking a break from your regular routines or standard routes is one of the best ways to jump start your imagination. When you put yourself in a new place or situation, you're forcing your mind to think harder. You no longer can go through tasks or down paths without thinking because you are somewhere new. When you're experiencing new things, you are usually so much more aware and this is a great time for your imagination to get some great exercise. Once you break from your routines, you're giving your mind a chance to see and think about the world differently, which is a great way to get new ideas.

  • Share your creative ideas with others. Sometimes imagining things can be isolating and it can take us away from the present moment, but there's a great way to live in the moment and explore with your imagination -- by sharing your ideas with others! Sharing your ideas and thoughts with others may help them become more imaginative and it can help you come up with even more great ideas. Bouncing ideas and creative thoughts off others is a great way to come up with more ideas. And, while communicating your imagined ideas with others, you're living in the present moment with that person. Interacting with others helps to keep you present.

  • Read, read, read as often as you can. In my opinion, reading is the absolute best way to stimulate your imagination. This ties in with the point I made above about sharing your ideas. I don't know about you, but when I read something truly creative and interesting, something that has stemmed from someone else's imagination, I feel utterly inspired. Getting a little glimpse into the minds of others really makes me think and inspires me to explore my own imagination (which is what happened after I finished reading The Wild Things!). I know it's hard to fit in lots of reading, but it's one of the best ways to give your imagination a great workout.

  • Celebrate the imagination of others. Look around you and take note of all the things others have imagined. Observe what others have thought of or created and you're bound to be inspired. This celebration of imagination will remind you that there is so much to be grateful for and so much of what we have surrounding us is a result of someone's creativity. And, in many cases, creative ideas were sparked by witnessing another's creativity. So, look around you and imagine what the world would be like without all that has been imagined...

Henry David Thoreau once said, "The world is but a canvas to the imagination." I couldn't agree with that statement more. We have this whole great world around us and, more importantly, we have our amazing minds that can create thoughts and express them to the world. Sometimes I feel conflicted between diving into my imagination and staying firmly in the present moment, but I don't believe it has be either/or. We can be both present and imaginative. We can imagine while still living very much in the now. Imagination is a wonderful, amazing thing and we're all so lucky that we have the ability to think creatively, but I believe this is a balancing act and we must be careful not to get too carried away with our imaginations.  Living in the moment doesn't mean we have to give up on imagination, and I hope that the suggestions I've offered here will help you to let your imagination run wild without losing sight of the present moment.

How do you exercise your imagination? Do you let it run wild?
What are your ideas for balancing imagination with living in the present?

Want to help celebrate someone else's creativity? One of my favorite nonprofit organizations, Friends of the World Food Program, is featured in the "Awaken Your Senses" Challenge, which challenges food bloggers to create recipes based on their favorite food memories. What a great use of imagination! Not only do these bloggers get to recreate their memories, the blogger with the most votes will win $10,000 for his or her chosen nonprofit! Marc Matsumoto from [No Recipes] has chosen Friends of the World Food Program as his nonprofit and you can vote for his creative "Summer Sun" recipe as often as you like on Quaker Talk. Awaken your imagination by checking out the videos and please vote for Marc and support Friends of the World Food Program!


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Reading and sharing, reading and sharing. That's what I've been up to and my thoughts have indeed been running wild.

Sound advice. And I'll add one more. Sit still for just 5 minutes. You'll realize your mind is just whirring with thoughts and your imagination is everywhere.

Yes today too I was thinking, how can I live in the moment AND plan for the future!? Thanks for helping. The only way around it was to draw up some new goals for the future and act upon them NOW!.

So I decided that both NOW and in the FUTURE I want to:

Read and be inspired
Write and inspire…
Listen and be inspired
Talk and inspire.

I'm also having fun what I'm imagining I will be inspired by in the future and that's making me happy NOW!


I loved the title of this post the second I saw it in my reader. My very first blog post was about the limitless power of imagination. Wayne Dyer said that in our minds and our imagination, there are absolutely no limits to what's possible. I agree that as kids we have such active imaginations, and adults tend to stifle those imaginations. In fact, if anything, if kids keep coming up with off the wall, completely nutty stories, those should be encouraged by parents because it may be a sign of creative genius at work. I think one other place where you can let your imagination run riot is in the movies. Great post.

On my daily commute, I like to observe people and think about them: who they are, what they do, where they're going. Sometimes I think I'm really happy that they're not psychic because they might not like what I'm thinking (that in itself is a fodder for my imagination, like what would they do if they could read my mind?).

I feel blessed that I have friends and family whose imaginations are also wonderfully creative. Always, my conversation with them are full of laughter and ideas. It's really great.

Hey Dani, what a great post. I'm also looking forward to the "Where The Wild Things Are". It looks amazing, plus the soundtrack is going to be killer. :)

I'm like you, I LOVE to be inspired by all kinds of, music, blogs, people, you name it.

Thanks for the great post!


Dayne :)

Akshay - Reading and sharing are two of the most important things we can do to inspire our imaginations! Great suggestion about sitting still for 5 minutes. SUCH a hard one for me, but I'm going to work on it.

Jonathan - Love your comment! You've brought up some of the most important elements when it comes to inspiring your imagination. I'm glad this post came at a good time for you.

Srinivas - I'm so glad you liked this post. Where the Wild Things Are has really inspired me to think about imagination and all that we have the potential to create in our minds. I'm going to have to check out that post you wrote about imagination!

Kat - I've done the same thing -- wondering about other people and creating stories in my mind for them (and often being thankful they can't hear my thoughts!). It's a great way to be imaginative and you can do it almost anywhere. What's always interesting is when you imagine a person a certain way and then you actually meet him or her and find out how waaaay off you are. Great point about having people around you with good imaginations. That's so important!

Dayne - I can't wait to see the movie and I'm already pretty much head-over-heels for the soundtrack. It really has inspired me to think more about imagination and being creative. Glad liked the post! :)

My favorite imaginative activity is people watching. I can create an entire world around a person having observed them for less than a minute. It's actually pretty fun and...I'll say it...only a LITTLE creepy. :)

I read, write and photograph things. And all of these tell a story that is ripe for imagination. Good post Dani. And it is an interesting question about wild imagining (which to me comes close to an expectation)and staying in the moment.

I definitely agree about the reading part. I used to work for a publishing company and we had writers whose job was to write stories for kids, among other things. I took care of hiring writers and one of the questions I always ask was "Do you like to read? What kind of books do you read?"


That's why I love love LOVE the time right before I fall asleep. It's perfect for expansive daydreaming!

Elisa - People watching is awesome and it's a great way to not only stimulate our imaginations but also stay in the present. :) It's definitely more fun than it is creepy!

Syd - Those are excellent ways to cultivate the imagination -- reading, writing, and photographing. I'm just starting to get into photography and I love it. So many great ideas can come from a single picture!

Meream - Ooh, I'm jealous. I'd love to work in publishing. And writing for kids would be awesome! Reading is so important and it really does say a lot about what you like. Very interesting (and fitting!) that that's what was asked in the interviews.

Hayden - Oh, great point! That is SUCH a great tie for daydreaming... though I do think a lot of people get caught up with worrying at that time of day. Less worrying, more daydreaming, I say!

How do you exercise your imagination?
I write, draw, renovate my house and garden to express it, and of course the way I dress ~:-)

Do you let it run wild?
Oh yes~ I live far away according to others. Me knows I am here.

What are your ideas for balancing imagination with living in the present?
For students (I'm a tutor) use your imagination to help you remember new vocab or theory/model names~ write it as a poem, re-write a song, draw the word as a picture
For those stressing~ write poetry, draw, paint your flower/veggie pots; turn your recycling into art for the garden; journalling/blogging/scrapbooking your reflections on decisions and actions

Thanks for the prompt to think about this.

I actually have to keep my imagination reined in. If I don't I never get anything done because I'm overwhelmed with ideas and "what if" situations.

Fortunately when I do want to use my imagination, I call it up and it starts churning away, coming up with ideas that spin and spiral and multiply until I find the glittering diamond that makes me shiver with excitement.

Dani :)

Great post, I think imagination is stunted by worries and problems, and the best way to get a good imagination is to have fun and shut out all the problems and worries. Sit down and make a time of an hour or a few hours where you are totally shutting out all worries, and have fun, dance, paint, play with clay and I think you will find you imagination very active again :)

Have an awesome day!

Char - Thanks for your comment. You've shared some great ideas about imagination and it's so great that you let yours run wild!

Alex - Great point. Sometimes imaginations running wild are not the best thing for us, which is why I was struggling with the idea of exploring this topic while not losing sight of the present moment. As with most things, I suppose a balance is probably best! (Love your description of using your imagination!)

Diggy - Thanks! I agree with you... Most people let their worries get in the way of their imaginations and your suggestion is a great one. Setting aside worry-free time is a great idea!

I'm so glad you're going to start exercising your imagination muscles again! I honestly don't know what my life would be like without creating constant and ever-changing worlds in my mind. How boring is reality! I'm kidding of course, but imagination is truly a wonderful thing.

Not to mention, it makes for great writing!

Dani -- I enjoyed this post about imagination. I like all your suggestions about how to give your imagination a nudge.

You are right that it's easy as we become adults to pack away our imaginations. I find that as I get older, my imagination has demanded it's voice again.

Like you, when I was a kid I had a very active imagination and made up all sorts of stories with mystical creatures and things like that. I lost some of this as I got older and focused on REALITY.

Lately, however, I've let my imagination go free. I see faces in trees, imagine magical kingdoms on the horizon at sunset and enjoy my fanciful thoughts...some even become posts.

Thanks for this post:~)

Jay - Great point about how important imagination is for writing! Without it, writing gets pretty darn boring. Reality can definitely get boring at times! :)

Sara - Thanks! I feel the same way. Now that I'm getting older, I feel my imagination is being sparked. Also, staying in the present and trying not to worry so much has also helped out a lot with that. It's so great that you're letting your imagination run wild!

As bizarre as it sounds... my imagination seems to flourish more and more as I get older. I guess I'm doing it all backwards, but it sure is a lot of fun ;)

Hi Dani. I guess I don't see the problem with imagination in the now. Whatever you are doing, do it. When you are using your imagination, that's what you are doing NOW.

Both my daughters and I have a date to see this movie together. I used to read them the book when they were little. I even have my own "Where the Wild Things Are" T-shirt (love to wear it when I'm practicing yoga!)

I think you can both be in the now and have a vibrant imagination. After all, the best way to predict your future is to create it...and to create it you need to imagine it...envision it in your mind's eye.

~ Peggy

Melissa - That's awesome! I think I'm starting to get to that point too and I'm really enjoying it.

Stephen - Excellent point. If imagining is what you're doing, then you're doing that in the now. Thanks for bringing that up!

Peggy - So cool that you a T-shirt. I need to get one of those! I think I like the book more now than I did as I kid and I'm so excited to see the film. Really great point about how we create from our imaginations.

Inspiring post as usual Dani!

I fully sympathize with the initial dilemma - How can we be present and let our imagination roam free? I also gave it some thought. The way I see it is that there is a difference between healthy imagination and hazy daydreaming that blocks you from accessing your present. the more I think of it the more I realize that being present and living consciously actually stimulates and nourishes healthy imagination because it makes us more in touch with the creative spark in us - we are more connected to life and its beauty. The best ideas in science and art came about by people who were present and connected to their inner purpose. When you are present you expand your consciousness and ideas and imagination have a space to grow. By being present we create that inner space. The five points you mentioned in fact are ways of creating this inner space. I completely agree with them!

Gilbert - Thanks for your great comment! I'm glad you could understand why I was struggling with this topic and you've offered some great insight on it. Thank you!

Just been having a lovely read of your inspirational blog. So many great articles to explore and heaps of good advice.

Re inspiration: I love brainstorming, by myself and even better with an open minded and trustworty friend who isn't afraid to really let go and spit out every crazy idea that pops into their mind. If you can brainstorm freely without poo pooing ideas there and then some amazing things come out. Then later you can go through and cull out the nonsense and find you've come up with a few things you never thought of before.

Keep up the great writing!

Annabel - Thanks so much! I'm glad you like the blog. :) And great point about letting your imagination run wild with a trusted friend. It's so wonderful to share our ideas with others and to gain new perspectives by seeing our ideas through their eyes.

Children are innately imaginative - for them, the sky truly is the limit, until a well intentioned adult suppress their imagination by telling them to stop day dreaming etc.

When my children were growing up we use to sit around in the evenings and try to come up with inventions and ways to improve old products. Sometimes I would read a book or just make up stories. While we never invented anything that made it to market, my children grew up to be creative, innovative adults with a love for reading and learning.

Adalia - Yes, children have wonderful imaginations and it's important as adults to try to create that feeling of infinite creativity in our own lives. It sounds like you did a great job raising your children to embrace their imaginations!

As long as you are rooted, grounded and centred, and are aware you are using your imagination, let it fly baby! Being in the now and NOT using your imagination is downright foolish, imagine LOTS every day and regain your childlike wonder at the world and all its gifts

Rowan - I agree completely! You have to be grounded, but once you are, you should let your imagination run wild. And, as you said, life without imagination is just foolish!

Thanks for that. I kept getting stuck because I thought if I got an idea from reading/exploring someone else's work then it constitutes as stealing/copying and I would always stop myself because I didn't want any of my stories to be labeled, "That's from such-and-such book" or "She took that from so-and-so" and lose the reader's interest. I'm getting rid of that fear as I realize it is ok to have ideas stem from another's imagination so, I'm going to keep going and if they recognize anything inside my work then I'd hope it comes off as an homage to what sparked me.

Louise - You're welcome! I hope this article inspires you to run with your imagination. Great things can come from the inspiration and imagination of others!

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